Fairly frequently, people come into the library and they tell us that they are “computer illiterate” and they ask if there is someone who can help them with the computers.
They don’t ever tell us that they are illiterate and want someone to read the books to them.
Several years ago, they would say this with a certain amount of pride, like it was a good thing. They would say it as if dealing with computers was something that other people did, and they were above it. They would say it as if computers were just a passing fad that they could ignore.
They’ve started to realize that they aren’t going away, and that being “computer illiterate” isn’t such a great thing.
The library does teach classes in computers. They are free, and open to everybody. Our system also has books and DVDs that teach you how to use a computer if you can’t get to one of the classes.
The odd part is that often the people who say this are those who have to get on the computer to apply for a job. These days, a lot of job applications are online. No paper, no typewriter. It is all online, in part because the job itself uses computers. If you can’t fill out the application, you probably can’t do the job.
It is a hard, cold truth.
These days, being computer illiterate is the same as being illiterate. It is out in the cold, left behind, stuck with a low paying job.
The funny part is that these same people will say that their seven year old grandchild does better at computers than they do. The funny part there is that the only reason that a seven year old can work it is that the five year old doesn’t know he can’t. He just looks at it and tries. He thinks about the options and gives the best available one a try. If it doesn’t work, he tries something else. This is how anyone learns anything. Try. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
Maybe they should get their grandchildren to teach them how to work a computer, and for that matter, life in general. Maybe they have forgotten that the secret to everything is to give it your best guess and see what happens.